EEOC Settles Race Discrimination Suit with Walgreens

Naomi C. Earp, Chair of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, announced a $20 million proposed consent decree resolving a systemic race discrimination lawsuit against Deerfield, Ill.-based drugstore chain Walgreens.

The proposed settlement was filed with U.S. District Judge G. Patrick Murphy of the Southern District of Illinois, with a request for his preliminary approval. The EEOC's suit alleged that Walgreens discriminated against African American retail management and pharmacy employees in promotion, compensation, and assignment. In addition to the monetary relief for an estimated 10,000 class members, the consent decree prohibits store assignments based on race. The decree is subject to final approval by Judge Murphy following a fairness hearing.

A lawsuit alleging similar claims was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in June 2005 on behalf of 14 African American current and former Walgreens employees. The company denied each of the allegations made by the private plaintiffs and the EEOC. The two cases were consolidated in April 2007.

Walgreens CEO, Jeffrey A. Rein, said, "We are pleased to reach a resolution that is consistent with our past and future diversity and equal opportunity objectives. Our company was built on principles of fairness and equality, and we do not tolerate discrimination in any aspect of employment including store assignment, compensation and promotion opportunities. In fact, we're a drugstore industry leader when it comes to the employment and promotion of African American managers and pharmacists." There are more than 5,800 Walgreens in operation in the United States and Puerto Rico, with a current goal to have 7,000 stores by 2010.

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